Christie Cabinet Aides to Leave as Presidential Decision Nears

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who is nearing a decision on running for president, announced the departure of three long-serving cabinet members, including Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff.

Health Commissioner Mary O’Dowd and Insurance Commissioner Ken Kobylowski also plan to leave over the next several weeks, Christie said Monday in a statement. He said he plans to nominate O’Dowd to the board of directors for Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.

Sidamon-Eristoff, who took office in February 2010 and has crafted each budget Christie has signed since taking office, was a key figure in the governor’s push to overhaul pensions in 2011 and cut business taxes by $2.3 billion. The departures were announced hours after Democrats in Trenton said they plan to pass a budget this week that adds $1.8 billion to the pension system and raises tax on businesses and those earning more than $1 million.

“I want to personally thank these three talented and dedicated individuals for their service to this administration and to the citizens of New Jersey,” Christie said. “Acting on some of the most challenging issues facing our state, each has responded with utmost professionalism in working on solutions that have balanced six state budgets and provided a framework for long-term pension reform; ensured that residents have the health-care access they need through our health-care delivery system; and protected consumers by calling for more accountability from insurers.”

Christie, a 52-year-old Republican, has traveled to early-voting states ahead of a potential presidential run. He said he’ll announce in coming weeks whether or not he’ll join the crowded Republican field.

In another departure announced Monday, Newark school’s Superintendent Cami Anderson announced that she intends to leave her state-appointed post next month and will be replaced by former Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf.